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As Raphael acknowledges, and as we have already noted, Smith himself is not very helpful—and despite his emblematic status, there are minimal references to Newton in his two major works. The Scots for their part are believers in progress. This belief required a theory of history and much of the writing of the Scottish Enlightenment was of this cast Berry In this he was part of the Enlightenment mainstream.

Others have been more sympathetic seeing in this period a new conception of history as universalist, including all of humanity and all facets of humanity in its scope see e. Barraclough ; Trevor-Roper While they do maintain that it has advanced across a wide front and that the growth of knowledge is indeed a crucial ingredient in this advance, they are less confident than Frenchmen like Claude Helvetius, or Englishmen like Joseph Priestley, that it is automatic and necessarily always and in all respects an improvement.

An important factor accounting for this less than wholehearted approach is that the Scots attach less weight to deliberative reason Forbes Here the Scots demonstrate their debt to Montesquieu. The Scots are fulsome in their praise of his Spirit of the Laws , though that is consistent with criticism of, for example, his climate theory.

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Smith typically is sparing in his published references to him but it is clear from the LJ editions that he had a close knowledge of the work. The natural law discourse stems ultimately from the system of Roman jurisprudence that was a staple of Scottish legal education, which Smith both received and delivered. A key ingredient in the curriculum was the re-formulated, post-Reformation, accounts of Natural Law. While there were home-grown authorities notably James Dalrymple, Lord Stair's Institutions , 1 the most notable of these formulations—and both picked out in this regard by Smith LJB 1.

The latter was especially influential, obtaining a central place in University curricula; with Scotland no exception see Chris Berry's Chapter. Hutcheson himself in his lectures followed the jurisprudentialist outlines. As subsequent chapters will explore, one of the significant contributions of Smith was to recast this tradition along what may be called more sociological or historical lines. But for all its obvious importance, the jurisprudentialist talk of law and rights had no monopoly.

An equally venerable vocabulary, with its roots in Aristotle, spoke of virtue and the political or civic life as the authentic expression of human nature see now classic exposition by Pocock Smith's relationship to this critique of commerce is a running theme in this volume and is explored in the chapters by Spiros Tegos and Ryan Hanley among others. Aside from the relative weight to be attributed to the twin presence in Smith of the language of ius and virtus Pocock : there is a more infamous interpretative question, namely, the relation between Smith's moral philosophy as expressed in TMS p.

Otteson ; Montes And the more recent treatments which take fully on board, even when they do not start from, TMS still accept the salience of WN in any assessment of Smith. Smith the economist was neither a lone voice nor without precedence. Within Scotland, Hume's Political Discourses contained important and influential essays on commerce, trade, money, tax, and interest.

In an uncharacteristic acknowledgement of the work of others, Smith commended Hume's argument in these essays that commerce gradually introduced good government and liberty WN III. He did not offer that compliment to another Scottish though exiled as a Jacobite sympathizer economist, Sir James Steuart. Of his contemporaries, Smith engaged with the French Physiocrats.

As we noted earlier, Smith met its leading proponents such as Quesnay and Mirabeau, when he was in Paris. As this suggests, WN is a notable work of polemics. He does not mince his words.


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Smith is not a negative figure; he makes the case for various reforms, as with the treatment of the American colonies but he is not sanguine that his advice will be heeded WN V. Of course this is a gross simplification of Smith's own position, as Amartya Sen argues in the concluding chapter of this volume.

It is morally wrong to use the power of the state to direct individual actions, as in choice of employment or dress WN II. It follows, too, that liberty can justifiably be restricted as with bank lending. Since unintended outcomes are not always benign, the government's responsibilities include ameliorating both the material and moral circumstances of its citizens. One example of this is Smith's argument for the provision of education to counteract the effects of repetitive work. WN was rapidly translated—it appeared Danish, French twice and German twice all before Smith's death in Campbell and Skinner : The initial reception in Scotland was enthusiastic.

Although there is dispute about the immediacy of Smith's impact or the depth of WN's penetration in the reading public for a critical survey see Sher , Smithian principles did percolate into the political, policy sphere. In contrast to Pitt's view, Samuel Whitbread cited Smith in Parliament in in support of bill for minimum wage legislation Rothschild : One consequence of this was that in the early nineteenth century Smith was criticized from the Right. It was much later in that century that he was criticized from the Left because he had by then become associated with the glorification of competition and self-interest.

The history of TMS is far less eventful. As Glenn Morrow remarked in a lecture to mark the sesqui-centennial of WN, the same anniversary had not been celebrated for p. The bi-centennial by contrast was marked by conferences in Glasgow and Balliol and globally.

The book, however, was far from ignored when it first appeared. Across the Enlightenment it received a warm reception, with eighteenth-century translations into French and German. Although editions continued to appear periodically through the nineteenth century, its impact was muted. In Britain, neither of the two nineteenth-century mainstream approaches—Utilitarianism and Idealism—paid it much attention. Regarding the former, J. Mill does not refer to him though he does receive a careful and respectful exegesis in Henry Sidgwick's History of Ethics even if the concluding assessment is lukewarm Sidgwick : Regarding the latter, T.

A brief volume on Smith by R. Leslie Stephen's late nineteenth-century survey History of English Thought does devote several pages to TMS but treats him as unoriginal and the book as the publication of an ambitious professor's lectures Stephen : II, In his compendious The Scottish Philosophy the President of Princeton, James McCosh, despite seeing William Hamilton's development of Reid as the high point, gives a reasonable overview of TMS though concludes it is likely now to be read for its style rather the theory it expounds McCosh : The most informed account is by L.

While John Rae's Life and W. Such discussion in any detailed length had to await Tom Campbell's book length treatment of TMS Campbell his chapter in this Handbook revisits some of its themes. Notwithstanding that work, what was crucial to prompting, and then increasing, serious interest in TMS was its appearance in the Glasgow edition of Smith's works of In the wake of the Glasgow editions the rest of Smith's writings also came into focus.

This Handbook aims to reflect, and embody, the depth and width of Smith's work.

Adam Smith (1723—1790)

His view of the world, and of human behaviour inside it, is complex and sophisticated. While he was a son of his time he was also a teacher for future generations. The substantial and up-to-date chapters collected in this volume provide the materials to appreciate the wealth of his work. Bagehot, W. St John-Stevas ed. Find this resource:. Barraclough G. Finberg ed. Approaches to History , London: Routledge, 83— Berry, C. Haakonssen ed.

Introduction: Adam Smith: An Outline of Life, Times, and Legacy - Oxford Handbooks

Buckle, T. Cameron, J. Campbell and A. Campbell, R. Campbell, T. Cant, R. Chitnis, A. Clarke, I. Phillipson and R. Collingwood, R. Comte, A. Martineau, London: Chapman.

Devine, T. Donovan, A. Durie, A. Hook and R. Forbes, D.

Adam Smith

Forman-Barzilai, F. Evensky, J. Gay, P. Green, T. Guthrie, D. Kent ed. Haldane, R. Hamilton, H. Hanley, R. Hegel, G. Haldane and H. Simson, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Hetherington, H. Hutcheson, F.

Quick Facts

Turco, Indianapolis: Liberty Press. Kant, I. Gregor, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kennedy, G. MacCormick, N. MacPherson, H. Marshall, A. Marx, K. Livingstone and G. Benton, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

A dramatic of Adam Smith explaining Capitalism

McCosh, J. McIntosh, J. Millar, J. Both works were published posthumously. He attended the Burgh School, where he studied Latin, mathematics, history and writing. Smith entered the University of Glasgow when he was 14 and in went to Oxford. In , Smith was named rector of the University of Glasgow, and he died just three years later, at the age of We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Sign up for the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives.

John Smith was a British soldier who was a founder of the American colony of Jamestown in the early s. Patti Smith is a highly influential figure in the New York City punk rock scene, starting with her album 'Horses.

The exact date of his birth is unknown. However, he was baptized at Kirkcaldy on June 5, , his father having died some six months previously. At the age of about fifteen, Smith proceeded to Glasgow university, studying moral philosophy under "the never-to-be-forgotten" Francis Hutcheson as Smith called him. In he entered Balliol college, Oxford, but as William Robert Scott has said, "the Oxford of his time gave little if any help towards what was to be his lifework," and he relinquished his exhibition in In he began delivering public lectures in Edinburgh under the patronage of Lord Kames.

Some of these dealt with rhetoric and belles-lettres, but later he took up the subject of "the progress of opulence," and it was then, in his middle or late 20s, that he first expounded the economic philosophy of "the obvious and simple system of natural liberty" which he was later to proclaim to the world in his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. About he met David Hume, who became one of the closest of his many friends.

In Smith was appointed professor of logic at Glasgow university, transferring in to the chair of moral philosophy. His lectures covered the field of ethics, rhetoric, jurisprudence and political economy, or "police and revenue. This work, which established Smith's reputation in his own day, is concerned with the explanation of moral approval and disapproval. His capacity for fluent, persuasive, if rather rhetorical argument is much in evidence. He bases his explanation, not as the third Lord Shaftesbury and Hutcheson had done, on a special "moral sense,"nor, like Hume, to any decisive extent on utility,but on sympathy.